Technology is constantly evolving, but Blair and Jen Koss have found a way to give vintage devices a second life.
Rosie’s Workshop, a store specializing in upcycled home décor, lighting and gifts, is moving from Ross Park Mall to 4322 Butler St. in Lawrenceville. The shop is hosting a grand opening celebration on Friday, June 3, and Saturday, June 4, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., with light refreshments and giveaways. Masks are optional.
The business was named in honor of Rosie the Riveter, an iconic symbol of the women who worked in factories and shipyards during World War II. The husband and wife entrepreneurs, whose grandmothers served stateside during the conflict, use that same can-do spirit when designing products.
At their production facility in Chautauqua, New York, they take old, unrepairable cameras and projector tables and repurpose them into unique lamps that double as art pieces. The couple and their design team also install Bluetooth systems in antique radios that keep their vintage look but with modern sound technology.
Music is also represented in light fixtures made from instruments, including drums, guitars, saxophones, clarinets and flutes. The Rosie’s team can also customize lamps using retro goods provided by the client.
Some of their décor — two black lacquer saxophone lamps — are positioned in the entryway of a boutique hotel in Switzerland. And Rosie’s spot in the mall was featured in the 2020 movie “Happiest Season” with Daniel Levy and Kristen Stewart.
After spending years in IT, Blair and Jen thought Pittsburgh, with its industrial past and tech-driven present, was the perfect place to open their dream business. Rosie’s started as a pop-up shop in 2017 and opened in the North Hills shopping center in 2019.
Marketing Manager and Store Leader Claire Costello and her assistant Laura D’Alessandris will run the new Butler Street site. The Point Park University graduates believe Rosie’s is more than a place to shop — it’s a place to learn.
This fall, the store will host workshops on the second floor, where customers can make hand-poured candles and other conversation pieces using repurposed materials.
Rosie’s researches all of the vintage equipment, which is sourced from around the country, so each piece has a story. Photography buffs will swoon when they see a Kodak 35 Rangefinder like the one Marilyn Monroe used or the Argus C3, the brand made famous by WWII combat photographer and Greensburg native Tony Vaccaro, who snapped more than 8,000 pictures during his service. There are also Edison bulb lamps made from Paillard Bolex 8mm cameras, the device that launched Steven Spielberg’s film career.
“We think this is a great location for our brand,” Costello says. “It fits the neighborhood vibe with colorful handcrafted merchandise ranging from candles, small décor, floor lamps and high-end Bluetooth music systems.”